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PSC Ski teams finish in Top Five at Nationals

MAMMOTH LAKES, Cal. - The U.S. Collegiate Ski Association's National Championships, held at Mammoth Mountain Resort in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, are completed with the Plymouth State College men's and women's teams both finishing in the top five in the combined alpine scoring.

The Panther men's team concluded the competition with a seventh place finish in Saturday's giant slalom race. That finish, combined with Friday's fifth place in the slalom event, gave PSC fifth place overall in the combined alpine. The Panther women also took fifth in the slalom Friday following Thursday's sixth place in the GS, giving them a tie for fourth place with Seattle University in the combined.

"The teams skied as well as we'd hoped for," said veteran PSC coach Kim Bownes. "The men's team had a real tough time in the soft snow in the giant slalom, or else they could've been second or third. But we're definitely pleased with the results."

The fifth place for the Panther men was a slight drop from last year's national runner-up finish, but better than many expected following the graduation of four of last year's top five skiers. The women equaled last year's national finish with the fourth place in the combined.

Leading the way for the Panther women was sophomore Anda Curuta (Sibiu, Romania), who placed fourth in the individual combined. She followed Thursday's seventh place in the GS with a fifth place finish Friday in the slalom, earning First Team All-America honors. (The top 15 finishers represent the All-America Team). Senior Amanda DiLeo (Ridgewood, NJ), who was 25th in the GS, captured 18th in the slalom.

The Panther men's squad was led by sophomore Fred DeBaets (Plymouth, NH), who earned All-America honors with a 12th place finish in Friday's slalom. He suffered a fall in the GS and finished out of All-America contention.

There was plenty of snow on the course. The women's giant slalom race, which was postponed from Wednesday due to the three feet of snow that fell on the course on Tuesday, was completed on Thursday and both slalom races were Friday. The Panthers also had to overcome a vandal who broke into the team van and stole several thousand dollars worth of PSC's belongings.

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